Gas leak downtown forces evacuation
COLUMBIA – A gas leak downtown caused Columbia officials to shut down a portion of a downtown street Friday morning.
Construction workers hit a 2-inch natural gas line beneath Elm Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, fire department spokesperson Lisa Stone said.
It happened at the construction site for the new Brookside student-housing complex where the original Shakespeare’s location is being rebuilt.
The fire department received the call at about 10:10 am, and arrived first at the scene, Stone said. Ameren UE trucks and workers arrived shortly after to shut down the power line and fix the gas leak.
Stone said electric workers fixed the leak by 11:15 am. The fire department did a final sweep of the area before reopening the road at around 11:30 am.
The Columbia Police Department dispatched officers to the scene to control traffic and block off the streets, spokesperson Latisha Stroer said. A fire truck blocked entry at the intersection of Elm Street and Ninth street.
The strong smell of gas caused concern for people in nearby buildings and bystanders, and led to employees at the Columbia Missourian evacuating Lee Hills Hall.
‘We were in our morning news meeting and Dan Potter, the general manager, came up and said there had been a gas main leak, and that we should get on out of the building,” Missourian Executive Editor Tom Warhover said.
He said Missourian reporters went to nearby coffee shops with Wi-Fi to work until they received the all clear.